Fate of over 1,400 schools hangs in balance due to inordinate delay on the part of the School and Mass Education Department in disposal of applications for issuing no objection certificate (NOC).
After the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 came into force, all schools in the State were instructed to strictly follow the guidelines laid down by the Government so as to improve the education level to national standard.
As per the Odisha Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010, no school whether public or private can run without obtaining no objection certificate from the department concerned.
To streamline the procedure, the School and Mass Education (S&ME) Department in 2010 instructed the District Inspectors of Schools to issue the NOC to the schools functioning in their locality if they fulfil the prescribed criteria.
After a few months, the department withdrew the authority of the District Inspectors of Schools and vested the power with the Directorate. Schools were asked to apply online for NOC.
More than 1,400 schools which have filed online applications for NOC through the OPEPA (Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority) website since more than a year are still awaiting for the NOC.
The mechanism of quick redressal or disposal of applications through e-governance is yet to smoothly function in the SME department for unknown reasons.
“The department is clearing the pending NOC applications of private English Medium Schools by holding meetings of the high power committee for the purpose at least twice a year. But no such interest is shown in clearing pending applications for Odia medium schools,” said a management head of private a school of a tribal district.
If the applications for NOC is not disposed of in time, future of the students enrolled in these school will be uncertain, the sources said.
“The high power committee for primary and secondary schools has not met since 2011. Applications of more than 200 new high schools are awaiting approval of the committee,” a department official confessed.